Nature-based Solutions Initiative

THE CHALLENGE

Globally there is a growing appreciation of the huge potential of natural systems to help us deal with the causes and consequences of climate change and other major 21st century challenges.

Each year we already avoid flood and storm damage that would have cost trillions of dollars thanks to our coastal wetlands. Our forests protect us from soil erosion and landslides, and regulate our water supplies. Our soils, wetlands and trees store carbon that would otherwise be emitted as carbon dioxide, and protect biodiversity. The protection and restoration of natural ecosystems such as these has great potential in helping us to adapt to climate change, provide resilience to extreme weather events, and allow biodiversity to support sustainable economic development. These are Nature-based Solutions.

Examples include:

  • Protecting forests and wetlands in catchments to secure water supplies and protect communities and infrastructure from floods, soil erosion and landslides.
  • Planting trees among crops or crops within forests to maintain and enhance yields in drier, more variable climates.
  • Creating green roofs and walls and planting trees in cities to moderate impacts of heatwaves, capture storm water and abate pollution.
  • Restoring coastal ecosystems to protect communities and infrastructure from storm surges, salt water intrusion and erosion.

Nature-based solutions to climate change, if grounded in sound biodiversity science, can be low-cost and low-risk whilst also protecting the ecosystems on which we depend.

What is the Nature-based Solutions Initiative?

The Oxford Martin School is helping to support the Nature-based Solutions Initiative (NbSI). This is an international, interdisciplinary team of natural and social scientists based in the Department of Zoology and the School of Geography, but collaborating with economists, engineers, governance and finance experts from across the University of Oxford.

The NbSI’s mission is to understand the potential of Nature-based Solutions to address global challenges and support their sustainable implementation through the application of good evidence from science and practice.

It also works in partnership with international and local NGOs from the conservation and development sectors and we advise decision makers in business, government and the United Nations.

Scientific evidence

We consolidate and review scientific studies of the role of nature in helping people adapt to the hazardous effects of climate change. Our searchable bibliography brings together papers on economic, social, and environmental dimensions of Nature-based Solutions to climate change impacts, but also includes studies of the carbon capture potential of natural systems, policy papers and articles highlighting research gaps. Meanwhile, our evidence platform on the effectiveness of Nature-based Solutions categorises studies investigating links between nature-based interventions and climate impacts, based on a robust systematic review of the peer-reviewed literature.

Global policy

We collate information on the extent of global commitment to nature-based solutions in climate change policy, with an initial focus on the pledges of all signatories to the UNFCCC Paris Agreement. You can explore our data in a global analysis and by individual country to assess how nations are planning to adapt to climate change and to review and compare stated vulnerabilities, actions and targets. Our aim is to facilitate the revision of climate pledges, with the long term goal of increasing ambition for science-based targets for nature-based solutions.

Communities of practice

We support biodiverse, climate-vulnerable nations to increase climate ambition through Nature-based Solutions. We are working with our partners to identify the most relevant evidence from science and practice to inform target setting in national policies, and to build communities of science, policy and practice for NbS. We have just started programmes in Bangladesh, Peru and Ghana.

In July 2020, we will be hosting the Nature-based Solutions Conference. Please join us.

Biodiversity loss puts humans and the environment at risk

In this video, Professor Nathalie Seddon explains how nature-based solutions re-frame the relationship between humans and nature, recognising nature as a major ally in the fight against climate change.

Solving climate change... nature or technology?

In a podcast for the University of Oxford's Futuremakers series, Professor Nathalie Seddon discusses the advantages of nature-based solutions to climate change, such as reforestation, changes in farming patterns, or restoring wetlands.

She is joined by Oxford Martin School colleagues Professor Jim Hall and Dr Helen Gavin.

Listen to the podcast
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